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13 October 2017, 12:29 | Simon Arnold
VN exits race for UNESCO chief position
The Trump administration has announced that the US will withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations' chief cultural and educational agency. "At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations agency leading these issues".
In 2011 the USA cut its funding to the agency - slashing its budget by 22 percent - in protest at its decision to grant full membership to the Palestine. The U.S. now owes about $550 million in back payments.
The withdrawal of the United States, which is meant to provide a fifth of UNESCO's funding, is a major blow for the Paris-based organisation, founded after World War Two to help protect cultural and natural heritage around the world. It cited USA belief in "the need for fundamental reform in the organization".
Netanyahu said Thursday that UNESCO has become a "theater of the absurd because instead of preserving history, it distorts it".
In recent years, Israel has repeatedly complained about what it says is the body taking sides in disputes over cultural heritage sites in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.
Praising Trump's decision as "brave and moral", Netanyahu said he has ordered Israeli diplomats to prepare for Israel's withdrawal from the organization in concert with the Americans.
The United Nation's education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel.
"The goal of UNESCO is a good one".
In a statement, Bokova said that "despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful".
The organization has voted through several decision that have enraged Israel, particularly resolutions that appear to downplay or omit the importance of holy sites in Jerusalem and West Bank to Judaism.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres expressed deep regret over the U.S. decision to leave UNESCO, according to Deputy UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq.
"The goal of UNESCO is a good one", US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement.
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